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Monday, 24 February 2020

Covid-19: Living with the threat

Up here in my high Alpine valley the sound of helicopters is not unusual. Air ambulances here ferry skiers with broken legs and fallen climbers rather than the UK's stabbing victims, and the power company Kelag use them constantly for checking the web of power cables. Helicopters at night, however are something else, but last night at about 9pm came the throb and bass beat. The origin and direction of the Bundesheer's Bell Hueys was in no doubt - from the Gebirgsj├Ąger base over the Villacher Alpe to the Italian border crossings. Hey ho, I thought, they're closing the borders. Last Summer they ran an extensive exercise to airlift troops to the Alpine passes in the event of another migrant surge, so the sound and path of the helos was quite familiar. In reality this time, it's a Chinese virus rather than Iraqi economic migrants that they're tasked with stopping.

In the event the borders haven't yet been closed. There is intense pressure from the EU - backed up with a generous dispensing of millions in cash - to keep the EU economy going at all costs. In Brussels, the security of their federation may outweigh the fate of 1% of the EU's 460m subject peoples in the minds of the apparatchiks.

The Mayor of Villach is concerned about the legal brothel at Hohenthurn. Up to 120 prostitutes, mostly from eastern Europe, work there and at weekends floods of Italians - 400 to 500 every weekend - cross the border to buy their favours, reports ORF. He tells the press he is powerless to close the brothel, and the Italians are unlikely to restrain themselves.

I suspect the authorities, including our own government, now accept that Covid-19 cannot be contained, as I wrote a week ago, on Monday 17th. It's all moving very quickly now. The actions by the Italian authorities are likely to be a mix of panic-reduction measures and blame avoidance. Realistically, they have no chance of halting the pandemic.


Dave_G said...

Too soon to tell what may come of the threat by the WuFlu but the economic and social effects could be widespread and dramatic.

Even 1% (serious cases) of 10% (possible infected) of the UK's population would overwhelm any facilities we have. That's 650,000 potential medical cases requiring hospitalisation, oxygen and antibiotic assistance......

The total lack of detail doesn't bode well as the longer they leave a response the worse the effects, socially and economically, will happen. The economic effects alone could be calamitous!

Me? I've got a well stocked larder.

JPM said...

The strategy is to slow the rate of increase of cases, even if a pandemic cannot be prevented.

This is to allow some semblance of normality, to enable cadavers to be disposed of properly, and not to overwhelm health facilities as far as possible.

There is also some hope that a vaccine will be available soon.

But eliminating this virus otherwise would require enormous effort by perhaps every country on the planet now.

That's some ask.

Charles said...

We still have not heard from Southern Africa yet. I would bet good money that it is well established there by now. This begs two questions is it as bad as people say because no one down there has noticed it yet and if it is as bad as they say then we are in for a rough ride.

Dave_G said...

The longer it goes on the more likely the virus might mutate into something even worse....

DeeDee99 said...

Just got back from Mainz Carnival. There's no panicking in Germany.

But will the EU sacrifice 1 - 2% of the population in order to prop up the economy and maintain the facade of European unity: of course they will.

JPM said...

How is the European Union supposed to either save or to sacrifice people's lives Dee Dee?

Health measures such as quarantine and travel bans are entirely sovereign, national matters.

Would you prefer that they were centrally controlled?

Dave, viruses generally mutate into milder strains as they spread, for the simple reason that survivors are around longer to transmit it to others.

That's not always so though.

The very good news is that children and the young virtually always survive, however. The reverse was true of Spanish Flu, tragically.